“The activities and measures taken by the resistance front, including Hezbollah of Lebanon, Ansarullah of Yemen, Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Palestinian Hamas movement to restore the Islamic values make the Islamic countries and the resistance front stronger today than the past,” Velayati said in a meeting with Palestinian Hamas Politburo Deputy Chief Saleh al-Arouri in Tehran on Tuesday.
He added that seizure of a British tanker and downing of an intruding US drone in Iran’s territorial waters are considered as “a turning point in the history of the Muslims’ struggles”.
Velayati also added that the eye-catching and valuable efforts of the Palestinian fighters, specially in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, have given hope to the Muslims about the future of Palestine, noting, “Victory of the Palestinian nation and taking back the occupied territories will be materialized in the near future.”
The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force shot down an American spy drone over the territorial waters of Iran near the Strait of Hormuz at dawn on June 20.
Also, US President Donald Trump said the US air force was “cocked and loaded” to attack three Iranian targets a day later, but he called off the strike with 10 minutes to spare after being told that the airstrike might kill as many as 150 people.
Trump said in a series of tweets that he decided that the death toll was not a proportionate response to the Iranian shooting down of a US spy drone off the Iranian coast.
After Trump’s remarks, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said that his forces could have shot down a US P8 aircraft with 35 on board which was violating Iran’s airspace, but decided to shoot down the drone to only send a message to Washington.
“We intended to send a message to American terrorists in the region,” Brigadier General Hajizadeh said, adding that his forces had also traced a military P8 aircraft violating the airspace of Iran.
“Along with the American drone was an American P8 aircraft with 35 on board, and it was also violating our airspace and we could have downed it too,” he said, adding, “But we did not do (shoot down) it, because our aim was to warn the terrorist forces of the US.”
General Hajizadeh also stressed that Iran was not after war but was fully ready to defend itself, adding that the fate of the downed US spy drone was waiting for any intruding flying object.
“Our response to anything trespassing Iranian territory is like this, and if such acts of aggression are repeated, our response will also be the same,” General Hajizadeh said.
“We don’t embrace war but we are ready to fully defend the country,” he said.
“We possess a collection of US drones which is a proof that US has violated Iran’s airspace and shows that they don’t want to respect the international law,” General Hajizadeh said.
“If such an aggression is repeated, we will add other US (military) products to complete this collection,” he noted.
“The US measure was in violation of international law and we acted according to our legitimate responsibility,” General Hajizadeh said, adding, “It is possible that a US general or some operators were behind this American aggression, we don’t know that. But that measure (intruding into Iranian airspace) is a violation of international aviation rules by a spy drone which then received our natural response.”
Also, the IRGC Navy impounded Stena Impero last Friday when it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz en route to Saudi Arabia “for failing to respect international maritime rules”.
“UK tanker ship, Stena Impero, has been detained by the vessels unit of the IRGC Navy’s First Naval Zone at the request of the Ports and Maritime Organization’s office of Hormuzgan province for disregarding international maritime rules and regulations as it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz this afternoon,” the statement by the IRGCN public relations said.
The statement added that the ship had been escorted to the Iranian coastal waters in Hormuzgan province and its control had been transferred to the Ports and Maritime Organization for further legal procedures and investigations.
A statement by Stena Impero shipping firm had announced there were 23 crew onboard the UK ship, stating that there had been no report on any harm or injury to the crew members since the vessel came under detention by the Iranian forces.
Director-General of the Ports and Maritime Organization’s office in Hurmuzgan province stated that he filed a request for the seizure of the British tanker by the IRGCN after reports on its risky moves that made the vessel prone to accident.
Sources told FNA that the British ship had switched off its tracking systems in violation of maritime rules and regulations and was making an entry from the exit point of the Strait of Hormuz in the South, disregarding the established procedures that require all entries be made through the Northern pass.
Director General of the Ports and Maritime Organization’s office of Hormuzgan province Allah Morad Afifipour stated Saturday that the British oil tanker was seized because it ignored calls from a fishing boat after an accident in the waterway.
“The British oil tanker, Stena Impero, had an accident with a fishing boat on its way and according to the law, the reason and other issues related to the accident should be studied,” Afifipour told FNA.
He added that sailors on the damaged fishing boat had contacted the British vessel, but the tanker had ignored their calls.
“When the British vessel did not respond to the fishing vessel, they informed Ports and Maritime Organization’s office of Hormuzgan province according to the legal procedures,” Afifipour said, noting that his office had requested the Judiciary and the IRGC to stop the British tanker.